N a p a l m   H e a l t h   S p a :   R e p o r t   2 0 1 3 :   S p e c i a l   E d i t i o n

L o n g   P o e m   M a s t e r p i e c e s   o f   t h e   P o s t b e a t s







The Book of Silence


In my dream they asked

if anyone would like to read

with Diane di Prima.

I raised my hand.

You need multiple Ph.D.’s

to be taken seriously.

“Men talking about feminism

is like the deaf signing

about music,” she said.

It is possible I responded.

You man, You have to

make it a surprise,

as long as it is out of

this world.

They kept referring back

to the language of the birds,

“The hopes of my life are bound

 up in him”

Hey, Ho

the lark

& the owl!

The path of the

bird annihilates east

& west.

In the grove the

fallen leaves

are many.

You have to break

out in song,

invoked by a band of

armed dancers,

with the cult of the

Creeleys at Black Mountain,

the ritual of

the minstrels

are numberless,

 I vow to

kill the foetus,

the angry messiahs

with no hope of this

world, went out in the air to wail

and become elegant

but we don’t have to go there

It has to do with knowing

every time a poet puts

down two words

you split into two,

the bishop & the tomb

dividing the line,

slowing down enough to draw

from a deeper place

with a line or two

that can lead somewhere

away from the water

where you have been

the other voices go.

I’ve been watching

your captors

They do not labor anymore

in the human crucible.

water into will

down , down.

we visit the interior

where things are not disturbed

sitting watching you dance

in happy hours,

in vegetable silver,

in the growing erotic tensions

across distances

by Mother Goose.

you like it

the side of the phone,

we discuss an issue

in a voice that commands attention

like a Greek chorus

affected by speech

given by the opposite sex

or the mystics around,

trusting your insights,

who invented

a magic jar

with no air inside it

only knowledge that’s readily available

& in search of prey

by mail

& the notion of tribe

in the presence of Hermes

who makes sounds that

we make,

like the thing

that is signed by the

sign & the emptiness of the

Sign instead of romantic hypothesis

a semiotic code

like an exact reproduction of the

upside-down mode of language

with its roots in heaven

like the child coming up with

sentences that he’s never heard

spontaneous order


like heat death

or entropy & accident,

the nature of chaos

gives rise to form

like sudden change

forsaken like basketball

for art or space,

the embryo a being

with nothing to say

except that chaos is embryotic

form, giving rise

to the first gods

the antithesis of divine frivolity

like the dancer

originating from the lack of space

lying between language and seduction

its orphic qualities

bringing order out of childhood

making us two out of

the languages invented by children,

organs invented out of intuition

like the wolf children

taken out of the forest

before they are allowed to think,

words beneath words

an infinite pattern of echoes and repetitions

imbedded in language.

Hawk gods carrying

us away from language without death

moving us closer to things

that resemble themselves,

arcane like streetcleaners at 4 am

in Hermetic week,

opposites complimentary

in the yellow river

that precedes the universe

we view as complimentary,

an eleventh wing,

unfinished, they are out of the egg,

wanting to be scholars

throwing dictionary definitions around

for two years

taking out your eyes if you wrote

about yourself

or anything giving

information bout horses

or ideal nature

as in the hiding place for the hare,

preceded by forlorn hope

or form;

giving up all hope of forlorn logic,

the basis of all fiction

giving rise to questions of meter,

inventing new forms,

a chronology of memory

about forty feet long

& five feet high,

 not relating to structure

remembering the green couch

on the previous page

or how to deal with commas,

as the present gets closer,

never seeing this much with your eyes,

precisely the unnameable,

words with no cause but themselves

that glow on blades,

fade and disappear

merely more weary than yesterday,

a tense intelligence

as dead as music

when it was first sounded

with long black pauses

like Beethoven’s 7th Symphony,

a whisper of final music

I tried to understand,

like the language of the birds,

a pell-mell silence

in which the grown-ups pursued me

in lieu of particulars

symbolized by themselves,

sitting in the corner of the grove

elongated by the wild

beast language of the Futurists

spoken through McClure,

a game of repetition

baffling referentiality,

separating form from content

without allowing it to rest,

almost like the thinking of the dying,

a diagram of illusion,

the business of looking back

at the extreme structure

of future lyric,

cigarettes smoking

in the wind.




[Originally published in Napalm Health Spa: Report 2004. Used by permission of the author.]



Thomas R. Peters, Jr. graduated from Naropa University, where he was a teaching assistant to Allen Ginsberg, in 1987. His books of poetry include: Listen to my Machine (Rodent Press, 1994), 100 missed train stations (Holy Mackeral Press, 1995; farfalla press, 2002), Over the roofs of the world (Cityful Press, 1996; dead metaphor press, 2000), I know why the caged bird drinks [with Jack Collom and others] (farfalla press, 2003), The Book of Silence (Left Hand Books, 2006), and certain birds (Elik Press, 2012). In 1987, Peters founded the “So, You’re a Poet” poetry reading series for which he has produced and provided master of ceremonies coherence every Monday night of ever year since its inception to the present. Peters opened his legendary Boulder-based Beat Book Shop in 1990.